Observations on the means of exciting a spirit of National Industry; chiefly intended to promote the Agriculture, Commerce, Manufactures, and Fisheries, of Scotland.

In a series of letters to a friend.

Edinburgh: printed for T. Cadell, London; and C. Elliot, Edinburgh, 1777 Stock Code: 127839
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Presentation copy, in a fine Scott of Edinburgh binding

First edition, in a fine Scott of Edinburgh binding, presentation copy, inscribed from the author on a preliminary blank to William Murray, first earl of Mansfield, whose celebrated library was largely destroyed by fire during the Gordon Riots.

The Scottish agriculturalist and political economist James Anderson (1739-1808) wrote several influential works on rural economy as well as regular articles for his two magazines, The Bee (1790-94) and Recreations (1799-1803). He was "second to none as a development economist" (The New Palgrave I, p. 93). Observations includes one of the earliest criticisms in print of his contemporary Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The postscript to Letter XIII presents a prolonged argument, with sustained direct quotation, against Smith's light treatment of the importance of grain prices "to the well-being of almost every individual of the state" (p. 310): "since writing the above, I have seen the very ingenious treatise of Dr Adam Smith on the nature and causes of the wealth of nations; and am sorry to find, that I have the misfortune to differ in opinion from an author of such extensive knowledge" (p. 309). Smith never directly addressed these criticisms. In his closing statements on the topic, however, Anderson capitulated by stating that on all other matters Smith's reasoning is "just, clear, and convincing. To Wealth of Nations therefore I refer the curious reader for father sic satisfaction: - it deserves in particular the serious attention of every person who is concerned in the legislative council of the nation" (pp. 370-71).

The recipient of this volume, William Murray, first earl of Mansfield (1705-1793), was born at Scone Palace. Murray attended the local grammar school in Perth but in 1719 is said to have travelled, aged fourteen, on horseback to London, never to return - leading Samuel Johnson to remark that "Much can be made of a Scot, if caught young". Murray was educated in London at Westminster school where he excelled and later at Christ Church, Oxford. He entered Lincoln's Inn in 1724 and was called to the bar in 1790. Murray had a remarkable career both in the law (as solicitor general) and later as Lord chief justice and in politics. "His earliest business of consequence appears to have come from Scottish sources. He appeared as junior counsel in a number of Scottish appeals in the House of Lords in 1733 and 1734. The journal of the commissioners for trade and plantations (the 'Board of Trade') reveals appearances by Murray in the prolonged dispute from 1734 to 1737 between the Penns and Lord Baltimore over the boundaries of Maryland, and in 1734-35 as counsel for the agent of New Hampshire in a boundary dispute with Massachusetts Bay. He represented the trustees of a Georgia company in 1736 in a dispute with South Carolina over laws regulating the India trade, and in 1737-38 he acted for a Rhode Island agent in a boundary dispute with Massachusetts Bay" (ODNB). "Mansfield was a committed free trader, even to the point of endorsing trading with the enemy. He thought that statutory restrictions on market practices such as forestalling and engrossing, dating from the reign of Edward VI, were regressive, and he welcomed their repeal in 1772. He opposed combinations of labour to raise wages because, in addition to disrupting the public peace, they threatened to raise wages above 'what the trade would bear, thus driving capital away'" (quoted in ODNB).

Mansfield became a target for the mob that pillaged London in the Gordon riots of 1780 and his house in Bloomsbury Square was set on fire. His library was destroyed and he and Lady Mansfield only just escaped with their lives, a dramatic tale which prompted William Cowper to write the poem "On the Burning of Lord Mansfield's Library, together with his MSS. By the Mob, in the Month of June 1780". The present volume was presumably kept at Kenwood House (which had also intended to be attacked by the rioters but escaped unscathed). Mansfield had purchased Kenwood House on the edge of Hampstead Heath in 1754 and renovated the house under the guidance of the Adam brothers where it became "the epitome of genteel country living". The house and contents of Kenwood were sold by the 6th Earl of Mansfield in 1922. The house was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh for 107,900 in 1924 and bequeathed to the nation in 1927.

Loudon reproduces a Scott binding on another copy of Anderson's book with the presentation inscription "To Miss Fraser of Inveralochy from The Author" (private collection). King George III's copy in the British Library is also bound by Scott of Edinburgh with the binder's ticket of the title-page and a presentation inscription by Anderson on the flyleaf.

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Quarto (264 x 205 mm). Contemporary tree calf by Scott of Edinburgh, spine gilt in compartments with red morocco label, scrollwork border to boards and turn-ins in gilt, marbled endpapers, edges distinctively marbled in wide bands of blue and red, green silk bookmark. Housed in a dark brown flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Complete with both the half-title (here bound after preliminaries) and the Addenda (pp. 527-34) as issued. A very fine copy, handsomely bound, the contents crisp and clean. Some minor wear to edges of boards and head of spine; faded stamp of the Lawes Agricultural Library to front free endpaper verso, with an ink acquisition date of 1929; small binder's ticket of Scott of Edinburgh pasted to foot of title page, with some offsetting to facing blank; final three leaves and the rear free endpaper a little browned and creased at bottom corners.


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